The first of mothers, having given birth to her children, nurtured them to manhood and womanhood. Her purpose and nature fulfilled, she returned to her own world. But before her ascension, she reminded her children that she would not forget them. She would, she assured them, continue to watch over them at night through the moon. For their part, the children promised to remember the first of mothers whenever the moon appeared in the sky.
By day Father Sun and Mother Earth looked after the children; by night Grandmother Moon shone in the heavens to guide men’s paths. Thus is the primacy of womanhood remembered.
The first father of the Anishinabeg being a spirit, returned to the heavens after the conception of twins. Unlike the first mother, who was remembered and honored, the first father was forgotten. He had not left a token, a sign, or a mark by which he could be remembered. Animkee (thunder), for that was his name, became despondent and bitter over the neglect and forgetfulness of his grandchildren. In his anger he emerged from the western skies calling out in a voice that reverberated across the heavens.
Obscured in the clouds, he crossed directly over the homes and villages of the Anishinabeg. In his fury, he shot lighting arrows at the earth, and whipped the clouds until they cried their tears upon the earth. He seldom remained but passed on toward the east.
At first he was alone. Later, he was joined by many other grandfathers.
Together and numerous they often stormed the Anishinabeg. Men and women were terrified whenever great clouds formed, lightning’s flashed, and thunders shook the skies. From Nanaboozhoo the Anishinabeg learned to offer the sacred tobacco to the grandfathers.
Thereafter it became a custom to offer tobacco to the thunders. To the Anishinabeg, the tree, the creature, the portion of earth pierced by a lightning arrow was deemed to possess medicine and power.
More distant from the grandchildren than is the grandmother, grandfathers are not to be less remembered and honored. They too have shared in the gift of life and in guiding the destinies of grandchildren.